Friday, January 9, 2009

The Just Condemnation of Humanity (Romans 1)

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art" - Romans 1:16-2:1a King James Version

I was listening to Charles Price preach on this today, he was a former principal at Capernwray Hall where I studied for a year in the 'simple precepts of the gospel'. He really preached this morning and I really listened to the message of Romans 1, even if some areas of scripture are very confusing, I've been listening to Romans my whole life, and I think I get the just of the message.

I love how St. Paul writes in this Epistle with his Rhetorical style. He makes it clear that the world has made manifest the existence of God, and here appeals to what we call Natural Theology (in Catholicism) or Common Grace/Common Revelation? in Reformed theology (i think I got that one wrong).

Price quoted Abraham Lincoln who was not a Christian but once said

"I never behold them (the universe filled withstars) that I do not feel I am looking in the face of God. I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist - but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say 'There Is No God.'"
- And as much as I believe the Confederacy was right (just my historical/political view), I still have to say that honest Abe seems to make my point well for me.

I used this passage three times today when talking with people. Two of the discussions were on Homosexuality and I had to say that I thought it was immoral, and I must say that St. Paul makes it abundantly clear here when he writes, "burned in their lust one toward another; men with men" - no matter what the liberal commentators in my NRSV say about Judaic understandings of Idolatry leading to immorality, it seems clear to me right here that St. Paul is painfully spelling out the fact that homosexuality was a sin. There's too much theological gymnastics I would have to do to get out of it, and I'm going to need all the theological gymnastics I can muster to dodge Romans 4:5 like the plague to make my Catholic hermeneutic fit.

Anyway I just thought it was good to remember that under God's declaration all stand guilty and sinful. This is the first precept of the Gospel, the sinfulness and just condemnation of mankind.

God is just, and justifier. If it were not for the grace of his unconditional election, we would have no hope.

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